How PricewaterhouseCoopers’ ‘Game of Threats’ aims to be a crisis management training tool for staff development purposes

Crisis management hacker image (by Welcomia via Shutterstock).

“Greetings, game time is near. Shall we play a game?” PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Game of Threats aims to raise awareness of online threats. Image by Welcomia (via Shutterstock).

“Is this a game, or is it real? What’s the difference?”, that was the tagline for the 1983 Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy film, Wargames. In the midst of Cold War paranoia, it demonstrated how hackers could potentially press the nuclear button and engage in global thermonuclear war. Though the threat of nuclear destruction is lower level than in 1983, hackers can be a nuisance with today’s networks. This has inspired PwC’s crisis management simulation.

Entitled Game of Threats, its title is inspired by George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones novels (and the highly successful film franchise). The game is an online crisis management simulation which raises awareness of the online threats that accountancy practices face. It aims to:

  • Simulate crisis scenarios where accountants are threatened by hackers;
  • Raise awareness of cyber security trends and terminology;
  • Enable accountancy practices to learn lessons about their response to a cyber attack;
  • Highlight the potential ramifications of a security threat and suggest possible remediation options;
  • Give players an insight into the ways and workings of hackers;
  • Be a catalyst for subsequent crisis management themed discussions.

You can choose to become the hacker or the company. The hacker (or the Threat Actor) is denoted as the attacking player, whereas The Company Actor is the defending player. Players are rewarded for making good decisions and penalised for making bad moves.

With the game being network-based, the setting of PwC’s crisis management simulation is in real time. Online feedback and the consequences of each player’s actions are seen in real time, adding to the overall tension of the game. This is moderated by people at PricewaterhouseCoopers, with immediate feedback on strategies and decisions.

We have yet to play PwC’s crisis management game ourselves, so we couldn’t give you a detailed review of our experience. Based on game theory and Pokemon-style gamification, it seems exciting.

Game of Thrones Self Assessment meme

Sorry, we couldn’t resist the Game of Thrones meme with our city’s very own Sean Bean. Original image courtesy of HBO.

Peach Wilkinson Accountants, 28 September 2016.

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